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Background, 10.5-month-old chonky pup (2/3 of my weight). He is very well behaved the only headache I've been having and the main thing that I've been working on is leash walking. It's a very slow process and I've gotten a lot of outside help. We are currently going to 1 on 1 puppy classes. He is finally gotten better. The main "issue" is that we live in new york city so there's a lot of distractions and he gets extremely excited when he sees other dogs (sometimes pigeons and rats 🤦‍♀️). I walk him twice a day for about 2 hours. I've mainly been using the if-he-pulls-I-stop method, treats when he is doing well (ex: back to check on me, walking beside me etc...), going out when it's off dog-walking rush hours (~1pm/11pm), cross the road when I see other dogs coming. We are slowly making progress!

As he got better at loose leash walking, I started doing this (not really strategic, it just kinda happened): when he continues to get too excited and when I feel like I'm about to lose patients. I'd keep him on a short leash for a little bit (often less than a minute) then he gets his loose leash privilege back. Keeping him on a short leash is more for me to calm down and get over frustration than anything else. If I just stop then he gets impatient would start whining or start pull towards things around us. However, I'm starting to wonder if that's a good way to handle the situation.

Today, we went out for our lunch walk. He was doing well for the first 2 blocks. Then he pooped (most stressful part of his walks for me). I cleaned up and just when I was about to throw the poop in the trashcan, he started sprinting towards a pigeon. Unfortunately, it was at an awkward angle, and I didn't have the leverage to stop him right away. I ended up getting dragged behind him towards the pigeon, and then the dog that's on the other side of a verticle advertising billboard he discovered thanks to the pigeon (the other dog owner obviously wasn't pleased by the surprise). I was only able to stop us because I got slammed into a metal railing close to the billboard and my hand with the poop bag still in naturally and instinctually landed on the bag of poop over the metal bars. After the incident, I tried to keep my cool and kept him on a short leash for the next block. Maybe because I kept the leash too short or maybe because he was still very excited. He slipped out of the leash. At that point, I called him back with an angry voice (thankfully he has very good recall) put him back on a short leash, and walked straight home. The shortest walk we've ever had! After I dropped him off at home, I immediately stepped out to get coffee and cool down.

So now I'm thinking maybe it's not a very good idea putting him on a short leash to "cool down." I also felt bad that I didn't praise him for the recall and was worried that he'd associate coming back to me when off-leash with getting in trouble and going home directly. Any thoughts and advice? Thanks very much in advance!
 

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Ouch. I've been dragged down before, and it's no fun. Walking a mile plus home with a busted lip, skinned hands and knees and a wet butt from landing in a puddle, swearing that you will turn all three dogs into rugs.....

It sounds like you are walking him with the leash attached to his regular flat collar? I would recommend that you use a harness with a front attachment instead (the Balance harness from Blue9 is a good one), so that his pulling is redirected to the side, which gives you some leverage. You can also use a double ended leash, with one end clipped to the harness and the other to a martingale collar, so that you can still practice loose leash walking, but have the leverage on the front clip harness when you need it.

Also, this online class might help you learn leash handling and management skills for his excitement. Fenzi Dog Sports Academy - BH150: Management for Reactive Dogs

There is another class, a self study one, not live like the other I mentioned, on a method of teaching loose leash walking and reducing the over-excitement about birds and such, but I'm not sure how easy it would be on a crowded city sidewalk. Fenzi Dog Sports Academy - EW100: Reducing Overarousal and Reactivity via the Circle Method of Leash Walking
 

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Ouch. I've been dragged down before, and it's no fun. Walking a mile plus home with a busted lip, skinned hands and knees and a wet butt from landing in a puddle, swearing that you will turn all three dogs into rugs.....

It sounds like you are walking him with the leash attached to his regular flat collar? I would recommend that you use a harness with a front attachment instead (the Balance harness from Blue9 is a good one), so that his pulling is redirected to the side, which gives you some leverage. You can also use a double ended leash, with one end clipped to the harness and the other to a martingale collar, so that you can still practice loose leash walking, but have the leverage on the front clip harness when you need it.

Also, this online class might help you learn leash handling and management skills for his excitement. Fenzi Dog Sports Academy - BH150: Management for Reactive Dogs

There is another class, a self study one, not live like the other I mentioned, on a method of teaching loose leash walking and reducing the over-excitement about birds and such, but I'm not sure how easy it would be on a crowded city sidewalk. Fenzi Dog Sports Academy - EW100: Reducing Overarousal and Reactivity via the Circle Method of Leash Walking
Thanks for the instant reply and wonderful advice!!

Ooof, that sounds painful! and 3 dogs?! I would've become a rug myself by the end of the walk if I had to walk 3 puppers!

Yes, forgot to mention I'm just using a regular collar. It's hard for me to control him if I'm only using a harness and my dog trainer is a bit hesitant about the martingale collars since he is so goofy and derpy he might hurt himself (not that flat collar solves the issue completely). Your suggestion of combining the two actually sounds like a perfect solution! Also great resources. I definitely need to study up on reactivity!
 

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A properly adjusted martingale collar is practically impossible for a dog to slip out of, which is why so many sighthound people use them. And after having a dog slip a collar and get lost for six hours in one of the busiest parts of Anaheim, CA outside of the Disneyland area with no tags (husband felt so bad about it happening on his watch that I couldn't even yell at him...), I never, ever attach the leash to the collar with the tags, but always to the martingale.

And as I mentioned, using the front attachment point (at the chest, not on the back) actually redirects the force of him pulling, making it harder for him to pull.
 
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